How has checking references changed in a digital world?

Checking referencesIs checking references different in a digital world?

Checking references is critical component of the employment process that many job seekers forget. Before I answer that question, we have to address what purpose references play in the job search. As a career marketing pro, I help my clients prepare for all aspects of the job search process. Sometimes when people see the offering references in my list of services, they are confused.

What is checking references?

The question “What’s references?” is often asked as we review the options in my resume packages. There are four reasons I include references in my packages:

  1. To assure that my clients carefully select those people they want to choose as references. (Read below for criteria.)
  2. To make sure that they have the correct contact information for their references.
  3. To give them an opportunity to coach their references and provide the new resume as a resource for their references.
  4. To allow their references to be part of their networking initiative and potentially suggest matching opportunities by seeing their new resume.

How should I select the best people for references?

The best reference for you is someone who can speak both to your character and your work credentials. But there are other critical components to selecting the best people before the hiring manager or recruiter starts checking references.

  1. Someone who knows your character and work credentials.
  2. Someone who is articulate and can speak clearly about your skills, character, accomplishments, and value.
  3. Someone who doesn’t swear in conversation or luckily to ramble on or trash talk you.
  4. Someone who is respectable themselves so that if they are Googled, they will reflect positively on you.

What is new in checking references?

Throughout the years, I have been asked to provide references for many people. Some are friends, some are clients, some are volunteers, and some are people I know through other organizations. Most of the time, I have been called on the phone. Occasionally, I have gotten something in writing.

This morning, in response to a request from a friend, I completed an assignment for an employer checking references from ChequedReference. I never have responded to such an automated system before. It asked me if I wanted to use any of my social media accounts to verify my identity. This could be a new way of checking references using a digital process. This is what their website says:

ChequedReference™ is an online reference-checking solution that automates the administration of reference assessments. Candidates drive the entire process by inviting references to participate which increases completion rates while reducing your time spent playing phone tag. The result is faster, more candid feedback at a fraction of the cost and effort of old fashioned, phone based reference checks.

I have always had a bias against the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that have depersonalized the hiring process and this seems one more step in that direction. In defense of those in the hiring industry, I know online job applications increased volume dramatically, which makes sifting out the unqualified almost an insurmountable task. Too many people treat job search as a dart game, throwing their resume or application at every remote possibility. This automated way of checking references is one more response to the massive volume of job applicants.

What this experience taught me how critical it is to include both the cell phone and the email of your references because you can’t predict the reference checking process.

If you need someone in your corner to give you that boost of confidence, an expert who has been in the trenches, start here at my Let me write your resume page. Or Call me at 715-574-5263, email at Or schedule an appointment with Calendly!

Photo credit: Sebastien Wiertz

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Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

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